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Back in 2009 I wrote a detailed post on this scam, and it appears it is still going on.In fact, it's more widespread than ever, and the reason is that it is very easy to pull off, and almost impossible to track down the scammer. You scour the Craigslist ads for a rental home and find one that is both beautiful and very, very affordable. You contact the address in the ad and are told that the owner had to leave the country (usually for something like missionary work) and needs money to cover the mortgage.They gain access to the home through various means, including getting the keys legitimately from a home that's on the market, and then renting it out to dozens of people in a single day.Watch out for this one, and if you receive an email that references leaving the country and low rent because money is needed , add it to your spam filter.The only way out, when you spot it, is to cancel your credit card. Another cell phone swindle is to provide you with a call back number that appears to be an answering service, but is in fact a pay-per-call number.Although you won't be out thousands of dollars like some warnings of these numbers claim (specifically the 809 code scam), you could be charged - to make the call.
This "lure" scenario has happened many times over the years, and as always Craigslist advises you to meet in a safe, secure location, go with a friend (or two), and if in doubt, back out.Another common scam is that your prospective buyer will send you a check (regular check, money order, or a cashier's check) that is for much more than the agreed price.There will usually be an excuse, like "oh, I sent a down payment for two months rent instead of one, can you wire me the difference?And if enough people do it, that's a tidy sum for the scammer.With unemployment as high as it is, people out there are desperate for work.
Be wary of any seller that recommends an escrow service to you, and if one does, take steps to verify its legitimacy.